£7 Protection. 28th December

Stenson Lock 6 to Henry Knibb Bridge 3A

Last night we had discussions about our rate of progress. Yesterdays cruise had been cold and bordering on the not so pleasant. Should we slow our progress somewhat to less than 4.5 hours a day? Would we then be able to make our booking at Cromwell? Should we keep up the hours with the hope that we’d still make Stoke Lock for the last bookable passage between Christmas and the New Year? Would todays forecast rain scupper all our plans anyway?

It was decided to continue as planned, river levels were still coming down, slowly. It would be daft not to be in a position to be able to do the next hop on the river to a safe mooring. Our current mooring was also not suitable for Tilly with the occasional train going past only 50 yards away, plus the trees creaking overhead in the wind! So layers of waterproofs were put on, we’d brave todays rain.

£7 protection

Father Christmas had brought me some new knickers in my stocking, little did he know that he was also providing us with means to keep the navigational phone dry at the stern. It rained for much of the morning, but nowhere near as heavy as we’d expected. It was also far warmer than yesterday, although the wind was quite strong at times bringing the temperature down.

Coal settling in for the days cruise

Ragley Boatstop moorings should have been our mooring last night, just as well we’d stopped early as it was full. A chap warned us about the level below Weston Lock as something yesterday had happened to a paddle at Aston meaning the pound between the locks was draining, they had difficulty, but hopefully all had been sorted by C&RT.

Along the stretch where cars are warned not to fall into the canal. We approached Swarkstone Lock. The Winter Moorings above the lock would have had space for us yesterday, but we’d have been really miserable by the time we got there. A couple of familiar boats NB Still Waters whom we’d seen a few times over the summer and the boat with an owl, Solar Afloat and chilled medication.

Waiting for the lock to fill

We dropped down the lock and just as I opened the bottom gates a hire boat arrived to drop their crew off below no need to close the heavy gates.

The next stretch of towpath is in the process of being upgraded. Pristine tarmac, mud no longer stretches out along the side of the canal. This will have some boaters moaning about a speedway for cyclists.

Weston Lock

Weston Lock was next, another line of winter moorings. A quick look over the bridge showed that the water level was fine below. Here the bottom gates can be an absolute b****rd to close, the offside in particular. I worked the lock, avoiding the big steps up onto the beams to help protect my calf muscle and walking round the lock instead. As I lifted the first bottom paddle a boat appeared below. Hooray, I’d not have to close the gate! Result.

Thank you for arriving when you did

Aston Lock, it was now really quite breezy. As Oleanna descended, the wind hitting the sides if the chamber pushed her across the lock. Here I did have to shut the bottom gate.

Aston Lock

We pootled on towards Shardlow deciding to stop short where Tilly might have a better couple of hours shore leave, unfortunately it’s quite noisy from the A50. After a couple of visits to outside it became obvious that Tilly was far more interested in receiving the catnip Dreamies on her return than actually being outside! These Dreamies are now rationed to 2 a time and if she keeps on at this rate they will be reduced to 1 a time! That means they’ll last longer!

With a late lunch out of the way Mick phoned C&RT to make our booking through Stoke Lock for the 31st. The lady who answered the phone had to be talked through where we meant, then she tried calling the local team for us to make the booking. Adrian was already on the phone, she’d get him to call us back.

Another look at river levels, it was now looking like the trend was in the upward direction, some stations predicting a sharp rise. This morning the strong stream section of the C&RT website had said that at Cranfleet flood gates was Amber, proceed with caution. However the stoppage notice of the floodgates being closed had not been rescinded.

We didn’t have long to wait for Adrian to call us back. He asked if we’d be able to get to the lock for the hour window on the 31st, we would as our current plan was to moor above the lock the night before. He booked us in and said someone would call that morning to confirm our passage. Mick asked him about Cranfleet floodgates, the strong stream section of the website wasn’t working now.

Drying gloves

Adrian was the man to talk to. He is the person who decides on the closing of the flood gates in the area and sends out notices accordingly. The gates may have been opened by someone tampering with them, but they should actually be closed. River levels would be checked in the morning to see what effect todays rain had had. If the level was still going down the gates would be opened, we may get a phone call if that is the case.

Next years licence was bought, not a gold one this time as we’re likely to be staying on C&RT waters in 2023.

Ham with jacket potatoes, onion sauce and red cabbage tonight, a replay of Boxing day. The red cabbage is now used up, but there is still some ham left for another day.

3 locks, WE 7.97 miles, Pip’s Nebo 8.3 miles (including walking round locks), Mick’s Nebo 8 miles (static on the boat), 1 wet day, 1 blowy day, 1 more booking made, 4 now booked, 16 Dreamies, 20 the maximum in one day Tilly! 1 noisy mooring, 2 boaters watching the levels, 4 fingers crossed.